Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Deimos Subway (SUBWAY.WAD)

by Neal Ziring

Before Neal Ziring released his ELEMENTS minisode for vanilla Doom in 1994, he published this little gem for the same IWAD, occupying the E2M1 slot. The level is a subway romp that Ziring's homepage says is based on a particular section of the Washington, D.C. Metro that he was familiar with. It even has its own little plot. Some alarming reports have been coming from the Deimos Subway network. Recently, they stopped altogether. You and a few of your fellow marines have been dispatched to investigate the issue. When the map begins, your comrades have just stepped through the teleporter on Phobos, with you bringing up the rear. Once you arrive, the situation is all too familiar...

SUBWAY represents a small section of track, overall. There are three stations to visit with their own significant off-areas to kick around in. It’s clear what some of the elements are supposed to represent. There’s a food kiosk (that originally sold gyros), some escalators, a ticketing booth, the Subway Master’s office (though that’s less clear), and a large, more Doom-ish section to the northwest that starts out with a crate maze and leads you through the bowels of the complex. It’s fun to explore, loaded with secrets, and even has some new graphics for you to marvel at, including some subway graffiti.

I think Ziring overestimated the difficulty of his work, though I’m speaking as someone using autorun and mouse turning. Granted, the secrets make the map more manageable with each one found, but there are plenty of shells lying around so that I hardly found myself as pressed for ammo as he warns in the .TXT. Combat is OG Doom, so most of the combat challenge comes from having to deal with the walls of hit points (barons and cacodemons) before you slip up and eat a fireball or two. The worst crossfire you’ll suffer, in an outdoor garden area, has a button you can press to remove most of the caged instigators from play. About the worst thing you could run into would be the end of level Spiderdemon if you failed to grab the plasma rifle or BFG.

The Deimos Subway is a pretty cool 1994 map for those Scrooges that detest everything made during that era, down to the jazzy "Take the A-Train" midi. Ziring isn’t the greatest example for texture alignment, but he knows how to make the areas look consistent, most notably the architecture in the subway tunnel itself. The huge, sloping walls with the lighting remind me of the cavernous architecture of segments of the Minneapolis / St. Paul railway I’ve been on, and they don’t intrude upon the gameplay (though Ziring could have taken some time to throw up safety rails, lest he incur the wrath of the UAC’s OSHA representative). If you want a gander at the kind of map that fuels the nostalgia of Doomers today, give SUBWAY a try.

NOTE: SUBWAY was one of thirty-two maps re-imagined for the 1994 Tune-Up Community Project. The remake is understandably more intricate and full of nasty Doom II monsters to combat. It’s a great play, though I kind of wish UOD had kept those wicked cool station walls.


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